Sunday, July 4, 2010

Unprecedented Support from the World Bank to Help Africa Recover from the Crisis

Record Commitments in Education, Health, Nutrition, Population,
and Infrastructure in FY10
WASHINGTON, July 1, 2010— The World Bank committed a record of $11.5 billion to Africa in fiscal year 2010 (July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010), helping the region recover rapidly from the financial crisis. The Bank Group supported 113 projects, with $4.3 billion in commitments from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which provides financing, risk management products, and other financial services to countries, and $7.2 billion in commitments from the International Development Association, which provides interest-free loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries.
“Today, as Africa is one of the first continents to emerge from the crisis and has the prospect of returning before most other regions to the solid growth pattern it had experienced before the crisis, I am glad that our institution was there to help, and was part of their solution.” said World Bank Africa’s Vice President, Obiageli Katryn Ezekwesili. “This year saw an unprecedented level of lending to shore economies back to the path of recovery. The constant focus on results and relevant and timely knowledge products made a difference for the people of Africa.”
The World Bank Group committed more than $72 billion in fiscal year 2010, an unprecedented level of Bank Group assistance for developing countries as the world faces a fragile and uneven recovery.
In FY10, the Bank Group supported an estimated 875 projects to promote economic growth, overcome poverty, and promote private enterprise, with record commitments in education, health, nutrition, population, and infrastructure providing much-needed investments in crisis-hit economies.
This assistance was provided in loans, grants, equity investments and guarantees to help countries and private businesses contending with significantly diminished private capital flows in the wake of the global downturn. Private flows are forecast to recover only modestly from $454 billion in 2009 to $771 billion by 2012, still far below the $1.2 trillion in 2007. Overall, the financing gap of developing countries is projected to be $210 billion in 2010, declining to $180 billion in 2011—down from an estimated $352 billion in 2009.
“Our developing country partners needed the Bank to be fast, flexible, and innovative in the face of the global economic crisis, and I’m very pleased we were able to respond with record levels of assistance,” said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick. “The harmful effects of the crisis on the poorest will be felt long after the global economy rebounds, and I believe it is critical that we are able to provide such strong support for social safety nets, infrastructure, and the private sector, in order to protect the poor and lay the foundation for recovery and growth.”
Commitments from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), hit an unprecedented $44.2 billion, up sharply from the previous record of $32.9 billion in FY09. Fast-disbursing Development Policy Loans, providing critical balance-of-payments support amid financing gaps, comprised nearly 47 percent of the overall total for FY10. Disbursements for Development Policy Loans kept pace with commitments approved, disbursing 85 percent of operations approved since July 2008 (excluding deferred drawdown operations).
Commitments from the International Development Association (IDA), rose to a new record high of $14.5 billion in FY10, from $14 billion in FY09. Africa this year has accounted for half of the IDA commitments.
World Bank (IBRD and IDA) commitments for social protection—including safety net programs for the poorest and most vulnerable—are estimated to reach at least $3.6 billion in FY10. Financing for infrastructure, a critical sector for job creation and future productivity, surpassed FY09’s $18 billion, and is estimated to reach more than $22 billion in FY10. FY10 also saw education commitments at an all-time high of around $4.5 billion, up from $3.4 billion in FY09; and record support for health, nutrition and population, which is estimated at $4 billion, up significantly from $2.9 billion last year. As the institution made these unprecedented commitments, with total FY09/10 Bank Group commitments at over $130 billion, the IBRD faced capital constraints, and shareholders agreed in April 2010 to the first major capital increase in 20 years.
Disbursements from IBRD and IDA – an important measure of impact on the ground – also reached record levels, and are expected to be around $40 billion, up from $28 billion in FY09, due to concerted and sustained efforts by Bank Management and staff to respond more quickly to client demand.
IFC, the largest provider of multilateral financing for the private sector in developing countries, provided a record amount of financing to businesses in developing countries, strengthening their ability to cope with uncertain global economic conditions. Preliminary and unaudited data as of June 29 indicated IFC investments totaled almost $18 billion, marking an increase from $14.5 billion in FY09. That included an estimated $12 billion in commitments made on IFC’s own account and more than $5 billion mobilized from other investors to supplement IFC financing. Resources mobilized from other investors included $235.8 million raised by IFC Asset Management Company (AMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of IFC that acts as an independent manager of third-party capital. The number of IFC investment projects rose to more than 500 as of June 29 how about June 30?, an increase of about 12 percent over FY09. Expenditures by IFC Advisory Services are expected to reach about $300 million.
IFC also maintained its strategic focus on the poorest countries and regions—especially sub-Saharan Africa, where IFC investments climbed to slightly over $2 billion as of June 29, a record. IFC investments in the 79 countries eligible to borrow from IDA totaled more than $4 billion. Nearly half of all IFC projects, and about 60 percent of Advisory Services project expenditures, were in these countries.
“In an unpredictable economic landscape, IFC directed significant financial resources into regions of the world where we could do the most good,” said Lars Thunell, IFC’s EVP and CEO. “We mobilized capital to address the major development challenges of our time. We leveraged our global expertise, developing innovative products and services to help our clients succeed. We catalyzed investment in emerging markets, demonstrating to investors that development and commercial success can go hand in hand in these markets.”
IFC’s achievements included several groundbreaking transactions and projects designed to create opportunity for people in the poorest countries and protect them from economic uncertainties. The IFC Capitalization Fund and the IFC African, Latin American, and Caribbean Fund—both managed by AMC—invested about $175 million in Africa’s Ecobank, which has the largest geographical presence in the region, to help expand access to credit in the poorest countries. IFC also invested $20 million in Leapfrog Financial Inclusion Fund, the world’s first commercial microinsurance fund. The fund is expected to help 25 million people in Africa obtain insurance.
The Bank Group’s political risk insurance agency, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) issued $1.5 billion in guarantees, up from $1.4 billion in FY09. “Despite subdued investor confidence and reduced FDI flows this year, MIGA continued to support investments that create jobs, provide basic infrastructure, and offer lending services to the real economy," said MIGA's Executive Vice President, Izumi Kobayashi. "We have stepped up to assist recovery and growth in developing countries during undeniably challenging times."
Commitments from the World Bank Group to sub-Saharan African countries—the Bank’s top priority—rose to $13.85 billion in FY10, up 28 percent from $9.9 billion in FY09. This included $7.2 billion from IDA, or 49 percent of total IDA commitments; $4.3 billion from IBRD; a record $2 billion from IFC; and $345 million in MIGA guarantees for projects in the region. IBRD and IDA disbursements in sub-Saharan African countries stood at $6 billion in FY10.
Despite the severity of the global crisis, the downturn did not result in an emerging market sovereign debt crisis of the type seen in the 1990s and 2000s, thanks mainly to prudent macro-economic management and debt management on the part of developing countries. In addition to financial commitments, the Bank assisted governments and sub-national entities in reducing their vulnerability to market volatility through technical assistance and by making risk management tools available to them. In FY10, the volume of risk management transactions executed by the Bank increased more than threefold compared to pre-crisis levels as member countries sought to more actively manage the risk on their debt portfolios.

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